Architect@Work trade show, Toronto
(These images and additional text were published in Officeinsight.)
Now here’s an A&D trade show with a difference. Instead of big booths sprawling on a brightly lit show floor, Architect@Work’s layout gangs modules of four booths measuring 10 feet square. The heavy black curtains surrounding the modules and the prevailing low light levels lent the affair a languorous “Come wiz me to ze Casbah,” atmosphere. With abundant lounge seating and tables to encourage relaxed, serendipitous meetings, complementary accredited seminars and free food and (after 5 p.m.) booze, what’s not to like?
Architect@Work, an event for architects, interior designers and specifiers, originated in Belgium 15 years ago. Since then it has expanded to 14 European countries. In 2017, it launched in Toronto.
Why Toronto as North American beachhead? We asked Architect@WORK’s Anne-Laure Van de Finste, Exhibition Manager, at the show office at the Enercare Centre in Toronto’s Exhibition Place. “Because of the construction: It’s the city with the highest number of cranes,” she replied, adding that they’re doing their market research on expanding the show to US cities.
The small booth size forces exhibitors to select only their latest, hottest product for display. Indeed, the show’s philosophy puts an emphasis on innovative products. Exhibitors can’t just pony up and rent space, they must apply to a judging panel. Only those with innovative products need apply.
“Even though we’re a European show, we adapt to the national market,” she added. For instance, to buck Toronto’s horrendous rush-hour traffic, show hours were 11 a.m. to 7 pm. In Spain, where nobody sups before 10 pm, the hours are a post-siesta 1 to 9 p.m.; in Scandinavia, 9 to 5.
However, “The layout is always the same aesthetically clean black-and-white, so you don’t know whether you’re in Madrid or Berlin.”
Another distinction: This is not a decorator show. Its mandate, as Linda Kafka, Market and Sales Manager Canada, put it, “Think of a building. Turn it upside down and shake it and whatever falls out wouldn’t be here. Anything affixed to the walls or floors could be here. So, carpet tile would qualify, but not the area rug.”
Nathalie Sandra, Group Exhibition Manager, started the show 15 years ago when a group of architects and interior designers complained. Ms. Van de Finste recalled that they said, “’We’re not visiting trade shows anymore. We’re sick of the sea of sameness. We go to shows and it’s the biggest brands, biggest booths and biggest logos.’ So, we brainstormed and created this concept.” (For the full text, visit Officeinsight.)
Archello’s How It’s Made materials exhibit.
At Archello’s How It’s Made materials exhibit: Materials consultant Jim Salazar of his eponymous Chicago-based firm; and Martijn Postmus, CEO at Toronto-based Archello.
At Archello’s How It’s Made materials exhibit: Glowing with a rich opalescence, Sensitile’s Slant Chaos light-filtering panels sandwich an inner layer of dichroic glass between resin sheets.
Booths for associations, including Construction Specifications Canada, Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario, and Association of Architectural Technologists of Ontario, flanked the bar.
World Architects exhibit flanking runway leading to art exhibit.
The Ontario Association of Architects exhibit along the hall’s east wall, curtained exhibitor booths in the center and in the aisle, visitors lounging on Verner Panton chairs.
Seminar-room speaker viewed through a detail of the wheat sheaf-stenciled scrim.
The show floor.
Visitors were well-fed and -watered, thanks to the free food and drink offerings.
At Object Carpet: architect Merike Bauer of Toronto-based Reigo and Bauer, Canadian Partner.
At the booth of Formica Canada, based in St. Jean sur Richelieu, Que: Christelle Locat-Rainville, Canadian Marketing Manager.
At the booth of Lightblocks, based in Salem, NH: Mary Boone Wellington, CEO and Chief Inspiration Officer.
At the booth of Edison Lighting Group, based in Newmarket, Ont., arc-shaped LED pendant luminaires light up Tomas Luknar, General Manager
At Toronto-based Art for Everyday, clockwise from left, walnut, white oak, maple, mahogany, and, again, maple samples of the firm’s custom CNC-routered wood screens.
Architect@work staffers Nicola Jacquier, Exhibition Support; Sabine D’Haese, Account Manager; Linda Kafka, Market and Sales Manager Canada; Anne-Laure Van de Ginste, Exhibition Manager; Christine Heyman, Sales Rep; and Nathalie Sandra, Group Exhibition Manager.
Enercare Centre at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.